Paying our Dues (Telescope Editorial)

EMILY DESHAZER/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL Jenny Russell and Luke Mahin work with economic development in Republic County. They see schools as a key piece of that puzzle.
Jenny Russell and Luke Mahin with JenRus Freelance direct the Economic Development office in Republic County.

Paying our dues

Viewpoint/ Deb Hadachek, Telescope Editor 


What can I buy today that is the exact same price as it was in 1999?

Or better yet, what can , buy today that costs roughly 20 percent less than it did 15 years ago and yet works better than the 1999 version?

Yep, I’m drawing a blank, too.

Except for one thing … local investment in the services of Republic County Economic Development.

When the 501c6 organization was formed in 1999, Republic County and the City of Belleville each ponied up $26,000 to fund its activities, or $52,000 a year.

In 2009, Belleville decided to cut its contribution to $15,000 per year, while in recent years the county upped its share to $28,000 per year.

Today, the RCED operates with a $42,000 budget –$10,000 less than 1999. In 2010 the organization made a major change: instead of hiring an economic development director as an employee, the board contracts with JenRus Freelance, Courtland, for 30 hours a week.

And boy, have we gotten some bang out of that buck. In the last five years, Jenny Russell and Luke Mahin have paid their dues in contacting potential businesses, helping business owners who want to retire develop succession plans, making communities think about housing and grants and other infrastructure needs.

Just this week I ate lunch with Luke and a reporter from Wichita who came to explore why so many young people are choosing Republic County as home. Jenny and Luke and the RCED board are promotional minded, and continue to get the word out about opportunities in Republic County.

Luke is visiting with all communities in the county about becoming paying partners in economic development. Whether something good happens in Courtland or Cuba or Belleville, we all benefit from the ripple effect more residents, more taxpayers, more kids in school, more services that stay here.

As much as they do in 30 hours a week what could happen in 40?

They’ve paid their dues. Now we need to step up and pay our dues to keep this very good bandwagon rolling.